WASHINGTON — Four republican U.S. representatives, led by Rep. John Joyce, of Pennsylvania, have introduced a bill designed to protect Americans' right to choose the technology that powers their motor vehicles.
The bill, H.R. 1435, the "Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act," was introduced in response to plans by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2035, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), which is supporting the effort.
If enacted, the bill would restrict the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing a waiver for regulations that would ban the sale or use of new ICE-powered motor vehicles, SEMA said.
The Diamond Bar, Calif.-based trade group maintains the bill is "critically important" to stopping CARB's plans to ban ICE vehicles. CARB's plan is dependent upon the EPA's waiving federal preemption provisions in the Clean Air Act in order for California's zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate to go into effect.
"SEMA believes that vehicle owners should not be directed toward a specific technology, but rather be allowed to choose the type of vehicle technology that best serves them," SEMA CEO Mike Spagnola said.
"While electric vehicle technology expands clean transportation options, SEMA will continue to advocate on behalf of the industry that has helped make the internal-combustion engine (ICE) a reliable, affordable and clean option for millions of consumers."
SEMA argues that allowing CARB's ZEV regulations to take effect could lead to 17 other states that have followed all or part of California's previous clean-car rules adopting similar proposals.
California's proposed regulation requires 35% of new cars, SUVs and small trucks sold to be zero-emissions starting in 2026. That figure increases to 68% in 2030 and 100% in 2035. In 2022, ZEVs made up about 16% of new cars sold in California.
The rule also sets durability, warranty and other provisions on ZEVs but does not impact the sale or use of used diesel- or gas-powered vehicles already on the road.
Joyce has represented Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District since January 2019 and is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees automotive issues.
"California's discriminatory waiver request would set a costly and dangerous precedent," Joyce said. "One state should not be able to set national policy, and Americans should not be coerced into making purchases they cannot afford."
Joyce's co-sponsors are Reps. Bob Latta, Ohio-5th, Gus Bilirakis, Fla.-12th, and Jay Obernolte, Calif.-23rd.
"In places like my rural California district where many people commute several hours to work every day just to feed their families, electric vehicles are not only unaffordable, but also impractical," Obernolte said, "especially when residents are asked to unplug their vehicle chargers to accommodate the state's failure to produce sufficient electricity.
"We need a market-based approach that will enable continued competition in the marketplace and push electric vehicles to be better and more affordable while enabling people to make their own choices about what type of car to drive."